Why use an immigration lawyer when USCIS forms are free to download and seem easy enough to answer?

Updated: Mar 11, 2019


There is an unfortunate misconception that immigration attorneys merely complete government forms and submit them on behalf of foreign nationals who need to obtain immigration benefits from the U.S. government. In addition, many people inappropriately counsel their friends to complete the U.S. government's immigration forms on their own and apply either without soliciting assistance from an immigration lawyer, or worse yet, illegally obtain assistance from a non-lawyer, such as a "Notario Publico", frequently shortened to "Notario". (See warning on "Notarios") . However, just as it's a bad idea for people to represent themselves on legal matters, it's equally harmful for people to represent themselves on immigration applications, especially when they have received no legal training whatsoever.


Just as people should not obtain a blank affidavit from a Courthouse and file for a divorce on their own, it can be as irresponsible for a person to complete a blank U.S. immigration application and submit it without the guidance and legal knowledge that immigration lawyers can offer through their constant handling of immigration issues and applications on a daily basis. This is because it is not nearly enough to be able to "survive" answering the questions on an immigration form. Said differently, you will not be your best advocate if you get to the end of an immigration form and breathe a sigh of relief that you were able to answer all of the questions (or almost all of the questions) contained in the form. Without knowing the impact that your answers to seemingly innocuous questions may have upon your application, it is possible to seriously jeopardize your continued ability to live and work in the United States. In summary, immigration attorneys are extremely valuable to foreign nationals who need to apply for U.S. immigration benefits. Frequently, an immigration lawyer will recommend that: an applicant either: (a) use a different form; (b) use a different “flavor” of the same form; (c) delay filing the application to a more favorable date (of which the applicant is not even aware); (d) file a completely different application or query first; or (e) not file an application altogether because it would result in not only a denial, but the commencement of Removal proceedings against the foreign national.


Furthermore, you should know that the billable rates of immigration attorneys are among the lowest charged by lawyers as a whole, especially when one considers that the benefit conferred will almost certainly be lifelong. This is because errors or misrepresentations on applications can cause problems for a foreign national when submitting a different immigration application for an entirely unrelated benefit, even if that other application is being filed decades later. This occurs because the U.S. government can and often does review all of a foreign national’s prior applications when the foreign national applies for a U.S. immigration benefit. (The U.S. government keeps all immigration applications on file and cross-references new applications with prior applications, even ones submitted decades earlier at U.S. consulates in remote areas of the world). For foreign nationals who appear to have taken inconsistent positions on applications that were submitted to the U.S. government over the past several decades, the result can be a finding of fraud, loss of U.S. permanent residence, and either denial or revocation of U.S. citizenship.


The stakes are high whenever someone applies for an immigration benefit, much higher than a lot of applicants even realize, applicants who feel they can represent themselves in a very complicated and unforgiving area of law where even untrained lawyers would be prudent enough to not dare represent themselves. In addition, as almost all immigration applications have long processing times, you should choose a law firm that will keep in constant communication with you and respond to you quickly and efficiently whenever you have queries about your pending application.


These are some questions that you may wish to consider asking an attorney who you may be considering to represent you:


  1. What exactly will your law firm do in exchange for the fee that you are requesting?

  2. Are there additional "costs" or "expenses", and if so, what do you estimate them to be?

  3. How does your law firm communicate with clients?

  4. Does your law firm respond to e-mail and text message, and how long can clients expect to wait before receiving a response?

  5. Are there any testimonials from prior clients that have been published or are otherwise available to review?

  6. How long have you been practicing law?

  7. Has any disciplinary action been taken against you or any attorney with your law firm and if so, for what?

  8. Are you in good standing with the bar of every state where you are admitted to practice?

The Murray Law Firm would be happy to assist you with your immigration case. Please give us a call at (888)354-6257 and we would gladly discuss your matter with you.

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